Trump and Biden went head-to-head in the first of three presidential debates last night – here’s what happened
Donald Trump and Joe Biden went head-to-head in the first televised debate of the 2020 US presidential election last night.
Taking to their podiums in Cleveland, Ohio, the two candidates started out in a civil manner before the debate quickly descended into insults.
Mr Trump claimed he had done more during his time as president than Mr Biden had in his 47-year-long political career.
The former vice president managed some insults of his own, branding Mr Trump a “clown” and asking “Will you shut up, man?” during after repeated interruptions.
Mr Biden also called his opponent “the worst president America has ever had”, while Mr Trump attacked Mr Biden’s family referring to allegations against his son’s international business practices.
Six topics were up for debate – the records of the candidates, the Supreme Court, the coronavirus pandemic, the economy, race and violence and election integrity.
The two candidates will go head-to-head again on October 15.
Here’s what happened in debate number one.
The coronavirus pandemic
Early on in the debate, a discussion around the Supreme Court turned to Covid-19, with Mr Trump making the unsubstantiated claim that two million people would have died if Mr Biden was president.
The coronavirus pandemic was then discussed in more detail in a specific section dedicated to the topic.
Mr Trump told the debate he thought masks were “okay” and said he wore one “when needed” – but he denied that his campaign rallies where his supporters have been seen not adhering to social distancing have had an effect on the pandemic.
The president bragged that he’s drawn up to 40,000 people at the events, saying he brings such large crowds to outdoor events “because people want to hear what I have to say.”
Mr Biden took aim at Mr Trump for downplaying the coronavirus, saying: “A lot of people died, and a lot more are going to unless he gets a lot smarter.”
Race and violence
Mr Trump drew criticism for apparently failing to condemn a white supremacist group during the debate – instead telling them to “stand back and stand by”.
Anti-racism protests have been held in large parts of the United States following the deaths of Jacob Blake and George Floyd.
Mr Trump was asked if he would condemn white supremacist and militia groups that have showed up at some events.
“I’m willing to do anything. I want to see peace,” Mr Trump said. “What do you want to call them? Give me a name. Who do you want me to condemn?”
Mr Biden replied: “Proud Boys” – a far-right extremist group that are known to incite street violence in the States.
Mr Trump responded by telling the group to “stand back and stand by.”
He went on to say “somebody’s got to do something about antifa and the left because this is not a right.
Followers of antifa, or anti-fascists, have appeared at anti-racism protests, but there has been little evidence behind Republican claims that members are to blame for the violence at such protests.
The president claimed his opponent was afraid to say the words “law and order” and pressed him to give examples of law enforcement groups that back his campaign.
Mr Biden did not name any, but said he is in favour of “law and order with justice, where people get treated fairly”.
Mr Biden attacked Trump over his failure to publicly release his tax returns as every other US president since Richard Nixon has done in the past.
Asked by moderator Chris Wallace when he would release them, the president said “you’ll get to see it” – to which Mr Biden replied: “Show us your taxes. Show us your taxes.”
Mr Trump denied a report that emerged before the debate that suggested he only paid 750 dollars in personal income taxes in 2016 and 2017.
He told the debate his bill was actually in the “millions”.
Mr Biden claimed Mr Trump “does take advantage of the tax code” and “pays less tax than a schoolteacher”.
The president shrugged off the attack, saying that all business leaders do the same “unless they are stupid”.
Turning to climate change, the president was asked asked if humans were partially to blame for environmental deterioration, to which he said: “To an extent, yes.”
But when he was asked why he withdrew the US from the Paris climate agreement, Mr Trump told the debate that such pacts were “driving energy prices through the sky”.
Meanwhile, Mr Biden said he would champion job-creating schemes that embrace green technologies.
He also said he would rejoin the Paris agreement, which is “all falling apart” without US involvement.